Three days ago my husband and I drove to our favorite Christmas Tree Farm to search out the “perfect” tree for this year.
As we drove I was reminded of years past with a backseat full of excited children singing along to the Bruce Cockburn Christmas cd we’d play. The saw, the ropes, the old shower-curtain to protect the roof of the car; all of them safely stowed in the trunk. Finally arriving at the tree farm we’d bounce down the long rutted drive to the appointed place where this year’s trees were being cut.
It was never a perfect search. It would take forever as each of us raced around hoping to be the one who found the tree that would be deemed “perfect” for that year. The sounds of “what about this one?” would float across the hillside. “Where are you?” and “Over here!” and “Where?” volleying back and forth as we searched and hunted and analyzed the apparent worth of each tree that caught someone’s eye.
Eventually one tree would win out over the others. My husband would then lay on the ground and begin to saw, saw, saw, saw his way through it. Young hands would help hold the tree steady, pulling it gently, eager to help with the effort. Four sets of hands helping haul it to the car (my hands full of saw and assorted dropped mittens etc…).
This year, its just the two of us. The children are all in their 20’s now. My husband, a decade older, still lays on the ground to saw, saw, saw, saw his way through the trunk. This year it is my hands helping steady the tree, gently pulling it to ease the pressure on the saw. The two of us haul it to the car. It’s easier with two grown-ups, but not as much fun.
For three days now the trussed-up tree has stood in a bucket of water in our car-port. We’ve been waiting until the sap hardens a bit, until the furniture can be moved, until it’s convenient to bring it into the house. Today is that day. We’ll jostle the still trussed tree through the front door, set it upright in its stand, and then begin loosening the ropes that bind it up so tightly.
That is my favorite moment in the whole process. I love watching the branches as they first almost explode with relief at being freed from their captivity, and then more sedately settle into place. It takes about a day for the tree to return to its normal state. That’s when it will get strung with lights, when the boxes of ornaments will be carried out of the basement, when Handel’s Messiah will play loudly and we sing along as we hang macaroni-embossed-stars, hand-made stuffed felt hearts, fragile glass trinkets, and ancient semi-broken ornaments from the year of our birth on the tree.
The fragrance of the tree will fill the house for days. And we will await the moment when our now grown children return home. We will await their viewing of the decorated tree and their pronouncement that it is indeed “perfect.” There will be a night when we all five sit in the darkened room lit only by the colorful glow of the lights on the tree. We will sip our hot-chocolates (or something stronger) and revel in the beauty of the moment.
That is the moment when I will finally say, “yes, it’s perfect.”